Link Roundup: August 2019


I wrote two essays for The Asexual Agenda:

Labels must be allowed to die – It’s about those really obscure orientation labels, some of which are used by more people than you think, and some of which are effectively dead.  I’m not against obscure labels, but I make the case against preserving dead labels.

Lisa Orlando, Author of The Asexual Manifesto (1972) – A historical account of an old essay written in the context of second wave feminism.  We first heard about the essay last year, and we were all wondering what was inside it.  We finally found the essay, and its author, and it’s so exciting.


The Cotton Ceiling: The best argument that TERFs aren’t feminists? – The “cotton ceiling” is about how people are unwilling to date trans women even when they like trans women.  It’s a reference the feminist concept of the “glass ceiling”, but TERFs seem completely ignorant of that fact.  Yeah, so I’ve argued that TERFs are feminists before, but their competency with feminism is pretty bad.  Just the other day, I saw on twitter a leading TERF philosopher claimed that trans lesbians only had the “chutzpah” to self-define into existence in the last 10 years.  She apparently wasn’t familiar with Janice Raymond, who dedicated a whole chapter to complaining about trans lesbians in The Transsexual Empire in 1979.

What Happens When Your Girlfriend Finds Out You’re Into Trans Women – The article covers the “unenlightened” negative reactions, as well as the “enlightened” negative reactions–that is, thinking that people who like trans women must be “chasers” who fetishize trans women rather than respecting them.  So, there are legitimate reasons to be suspicious of men who say they’re attracted to trans women (and I wonder if that’s a euphemism for saying they like women with penises, which isn’t quite the same category).  But I think that’s mostly down to society rejecting trans-attracted people, and then messing them up in such a way that they learn to degrade trans people.  I believe in the power of trans-attracted people to grow past this, and the rest of society should grow past it as well.

Should You Default to They/Them Pronouns For Strangers? – Tris asked several people and explains pros and cons.  I have a tendency to default to “they/them” for people online.  It’s a habit born out of interacting with a lot of nonbinary people, so it’s just correct a lot of the time.  But also, there are a lot of people whose genders I just don’t know or don’t remember, and defaulting to “they” makes a lot more sense than what most people do–default to “he”.

Offline, there’s more visual information to suggest gender, which makes it easier to remember but harder to navigate.  I try to use “they” for people who are sending mixed or ambiguous gender signals, but I often hesitate because sometimes those people are just FTM or MTF and a gendered pronoun is more appropriate.  Asking people is supposed to be the gold standard, but to be honest, I usually chicken out.  There’s a reason why at conferences they tell people to just write their pronouns on their name tags.

This is the beginning of the end of the meat industry – An article about how plant-based meat substitutes like Impossible Burgers will take over the beef industry.  I’m rolling my eyes at the author, who talks like a beef snob, but I agree.  Actually in the past few months I’ve been buying Beyond Burgers to put in Mapo Tofu.  I was never quite satisfied with the beef -> mushroom substitute for this dish, but with Beyond Meat it finally works.  I don’t really understand how to cook the stuff though, and it has a tendency to soak up water.  I look for cooking guides but it seems like all anybody ever wants to cook with the stuff is burgers.

Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns? – It seems the answer is economic and racial anxieties.  Of course, women and people of color also experience economic setbacks, but seem to find other outlets for anxiety.  One line you could take here, is that people who stockpile guns are being swindled–they think guns are a source of security, but in fact households with guns are in greater danger.

Our own little basket of atheist deplorables – PZ mentions that Boghossian was disciplined by an IRB (ethical review board) for his academic hoax.  So consider this a followup to my post earlier this year arguing that Boghossian’s hoax was unethical.  Boghossian could have withdrawn any papers that were accepted, before they were published, but he didn’t, causing unnecessary harm.  I have little confidence that the disciplinary action will actually teach Boghossian anything, but kudos to the IRB for making the right decision.


California allows Domestic Partnerships for Heterosexual Couples – This is great news.  I was in a domestic partnership last year (by now we’re married), and I was surprised to learn that it was only open to same-sex couples and people over the age of 62.  Obviously, since I got a domestic partnership, it was a useful option to have, and it was blatant discrimination to restrict it by gender.  Domestic partnerships are great if you want to avoid some of the cultural associations with marriage, and there are also some unusual tax situations where it’s better.  Next I hope they recognize that domestic partnerships need not be sexual/romantic, and therefore there’s no reason to bar partnerships between blood relatives.


  1. says

    What Happens When Your Girlfriend Finds Out You’re Into Trans Women

    That was a really depressing read.

    as well as the “enlightened” negative reactions–that is, thinking that people who like trans women must be “chasers” who fetishize trans women rather than respecting them

    I perceive trans men as sexually attractive. I perceive guys in general as attractive, and it wouldn’t bother me if the guy I was dating had been born without male genitalia. The idea that there’s something wrong with liking trans people is just so nasty.

    So, there are legitimate reasons to be suspicious of men who say they’re attracted to trans women

    Regarding fetishes as such, I don’t think it’s necessary bad for a person to have some fetish. Sure, it’s possible for this person to be exploitative and abuse somebody who happens to have whatever trait the fetishist is attracted to. But also people with the most common vanilla preferences can be exploitative and disrespectful towards a partner. As long as the person who has some fetish is respectful towards their partner and cares for them, a loving relationship is perfectly possible, and the fetish doesn’t have to be a problem.

    For example, I myself have a fetish for long-haired men. It’s not like I’m abusing anybody because of it. When I’m dating some guy, I will politely ask whether he’d consider growing long hair. If he refuses, I’ll just accept that. Me liking long hair doesn’t mean that I will disrespect or abuse a partner.

  2. Mara Jade says

    Hey, it’s Leilani. I think you may be wrong about that last part (News section). I remember someone we both new in college many moons ago was in a heterosexual domestic partnership. My brother was in a registered domestic partnership at the time, and she said RDPs were only allowed for homosexuals but heterosexuals could have domestic partnerships. Legally, it sounded like they were the same kind of thing but with different names and was related to financial dependence and mixing finances. Maybe like a common law marriage? Though I don’t know a thing about the legal terms.

  3. says

    @Mara Jade,
    I think “domestic partnership” is a common term that doesn’t always refer to the legal category. It should also be said that domestic partnership law differs from state to state.

  4. says

    @Mara Jade @Siggy I think your examples is referring to the fact that “Domestic Partner” can be used to refer to both legally recognized/registered partners (who are granted certain rights by states or other governmental entities after filing the appropriate paperwork), as well as more informal partnerships that are not recognized by the state, but may be recognized by non-governmental entities like employers, insurers, and other private entities.

    A big example of this is in health insurance – many private employers and insurance carriers may grant benefits to “domestic partners” as a group that is more broadly defined as something like a a long term mutually caring partnership, regardless of legal status. This commonly includes partners of all gender, and was often established by employers and carriers as a way of including both non-heterosexual couples as well as dating, engaged, cohabiting, and other non-married couples in spousal healthcare benefits.

    These kinds of domestic partnerships are sometimes referred to as “non-registered domestic partnerships” to distinguish them from the legally-recognized form.

    You can see one example of how that term is used in the insurance industry here:

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